Sunday, February 23, 2003

A little stiff-legged, that last entry. Ah well, staggering on...

2. / 3. An added 100 MB of MP3 rental property up at TIRC Central means further opportunities to flog the works of the two bands I've proselytized for more than any other in recent years. Why these two? What possible thread connects the Australian pop mavens and the dark-horse Mancunian candidates of several decades running, other than a smallish but rabid cult following, a certain conceptual purity (continued refinement of the pop song to remove all extraneous/excessive components in one case, continued abuse of the decaying carcass of rock 'n' roll to remove certain extraneous/excessive components and re-attach others solely at the bandleader's discretion), the fact that the leaders of both bands apparently pledge no particular allegiance to fellow (read: former) band members (read: hired hands and/or ex-ladyfriends), that both bands have been the subject of officially-unreleased tribute songs by bands signed to Matador who have each been suspected of stealing the best elements of their sound from the artists they saluted, that both Grant McLennan and Mark E. Smith are on record as having yelled at Nick Cave, that each band's mid-eighties work for Beggars Banquet, idiosyncratic as ever but more accessible all the same, should by rights have made them pop gods and instead barely made them pop selectmen, that many have drawn inspiration from their respective songwriting skills while no one's ever drawn inspiration from their respective fashion senses, and that neither band has released a studio album not worth owning (granted, the Fall came close with last year's Are You Are Missing Winner, but still...)?

I dunno.

I do, however, know that, while my affection for one has largely been displaced by my love for the other (in the mood for inchoate expressions of romantic melancholy more frequently than semi-coherent dyspeptic rants these days, I guess), my overall fanboy ardor for these two very dissimilar post-punk mavericks remains undiminished. And with that in mind, I've laid on a readily-available-but-still-semi-obscure nugget from each.

"Woman Across The Way" comes from the limited edition bonus disc packaged with the new (and typically excellent) 'tweens offering, Bright Yellow Bright Orange, a disc that has been cleverly labeled as containing "4 never-before-released songs!", in an obvious effort to ferret out the more dangerously obsessive elements of their fanbase, the type that would look at the track listing and cry out in wounded horror, "Lies! All lies! 'Woman Across the Way' and 'The Locust Girls' were issued as the 'b-sides' to the 'Going Blind' single back in September, 2000! J'accuse, Jetset! J'accuse! " Thank God I know better than to dwell on such minutiae. (They misspelled "Send Me a Lullabye" on the sleeve, too. Bastards.) Anyway, this is a nice, subtle acoustic Robert Forster number with a violin part that dives for (their late-eighties multi-instrumentalist/comparative sex symbol) Amanda Brown's memory.

"Rowche Rumble," a blast of pharmaceutical vitriol written and waxed back when the boys from Brisbane were still pledging their troth to Lee Remick and their local librarian, appears here in the live version from 1979's Totale's Turns (It's Now or Never) and, more recently, Totally Wired: The Rough Trade Collection. It's a brilliant performance - the two-chord crunch that underpins the song clangs out with more jagged authority than the previous year's 45 version, and Marquis Smith squeals, tuts and insults the gig's promoter in his finest hectoring-dockworker style. If that line in "Lie Dream of a Casino Soul" is indeed that he's the "Mick Jagger of right now" (as with most of Smith's perverse verse, no one's entirely sure), then this song was their "Mother's Little Helper." I just hope their erratic releases and even-more-erratic live performances of recent years don't portend a full-on collapse into Steel Wheels-esque pointlessness. What a drag it is getting old-ah.

4. A fellow poster on one of the 'net's more lively and contentious music-related message boards reminded me of this goodie from the Ones' first album. Peter Perrett never got his due, I think, for his influence on the homely, semi-conversational cadence favored by (mostly British) pop bands of the post-C86 variety. Which can be a boon or an irritant, depending on who's wielding that blunt instrument, but you must admit, there's no better voice in which to sing lyrics like "Why do I go through these deep emotional tantrums?" (Consider what Morrissey would have done with the line and I think you'll concur.)

5. I need a ruling, please - is this cutting satirical number about a Brit with an all-encompassing obsession with all things Yank, even though he's "never really been" to America, intentionally ironic because it lifts the guitar part from "Conduit For Sale!" and the keyboard refrain from "Forklift," two of Pavement's most obvious cops from the Fall? Or is a British band stealing riffs from an American band stealing riffs from a British band just another example of the limits of the Transatlantic imagination along the lines of NBC adapting the BBC's Coupling, the most blatant Friends ripoff imaginable, for a replacement series to fill the timeslot left behind by, um, Friends? Oh well, good song, anyway.


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